Three long-serving conservative incumbents on the Metropolitan King County Council look poised to make it to the Nov. 2 general election, as each, facing multiple progressive challengers, led their primary contests Tuesday night.
Councilmembers Pete von Reichbauer, Kathy Lambert and Reagan Dunn led in their districts, but Lambert, in particular, could be looking at a challenging general election, at least based on Tuesday night’s results.
The elections have the potential to remake the nine-member nonpartisan County Council. Von Reichbauer, Lambert and Dunn represent the council’s conservative bloc. All three have previously been elected as Republicans, but the county, even in its more rural districts, continues to shift Democratic, at least in national and state-level elections.
And all of the serious challengers to the three incumbents are liberal or progressive and would move the County Council further left.
Von Reichbauer, the council’s longest-serving member with a 27-year tenure, held a wide lead, with 56% of the Tuesday vote count in District 7, covering Federal Way, Auburn and South King County.
Business owner Dominique Torgerson narrowly held the second spot, to challenge von Reichbauer on the general election ballot, with 16%. Federal Way City Councilmember Lydia Assefa-Dawson was in third with nearly 16% and Saudia J. Abdullah, the county’s Community Corrections director, had 12% of Tuesday’s vote count.
In District 3, representing northeast King County from Redmond and Woodinville through Carnation and Skykomish, Lambert, a 20-year incumbent, led with 41% on Tuesday night.
Trailing was Sarah Perry, a former executive at Seattle University and other local nonprofits, with 34%. Joe Cohen, a telecommunications lawyer who previously worked as an analyst in the U.S. Justice Department and as an aide for U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, was drawing 24%.
“That’s a good healthy margin and we will continue to work on that,” Lambert said. “I’m looking forward to higher numbers of voters voting in November.”
“I have had harder opponents than her in the past,” Lambert added, speaking of Perry.
The combined vote total of Perry and Cohen, both Democrats in a technically nonpartisan race, could foreshadow general election trouble for Lambert, a Republican, in a district that has been trending left.
“Joe and I have talked earlier, before the results, and I let him know if he won I would be with him all the way,” Perry said. “And he called me back and said, ‘If you win, I am with you all the way.'”
Perry raised the most money in the race, about $150,000, compared with $80,000 for Lambert and $42,000 for Cohen.
Lambert has touted her experience and knowledge of the district, Perry has stressed transit and environmental issues, and Cohen has focused on spending oversight and efficiency.
In District 9, which covers the southeast portion of the county from Newcastle through Enumclaw, Councilmember Reagan Dunn, a 16-year incumbent, led with 57%.
He faces three progressive challengers, with Kim-Khanh Van, an attorney and Renton City Council member, coming in second Tuesday with 21%.
She’s followed by Chris Franco, a former Army captain who works for the county Office of Equity and Social Justice, with 16%, and Ubax Gardheere, an organizer who works for Seattle’s Office of Planning and Economic Development, with 5%.
Dunn says his top issue is addressing rising crime, Van and Franco both stress equitable economic recovery and say Dunn has lost touch with the district, while Gardheere says her top priority is making sure renters can stay in their homes as eviction moratoriums expire.
The top two candidates in each district will move on to the general election in November.
Two other incumbents, Councilmembers Rod Dembowski and Dave Upthegrove, will also be on the November ballot but were not on the primary ballot because each has only drawn one challenger. Upthegrove faces Shukri Olow, a community organizer who has raised more funds than him to date. Dembowski faces Sally Caverzan, who has not reported raising any money for her campaign.